After four matches in this league I am jointly leading with two points along with Roger Russell. You can drop your two worst results and the trouble is, along with my two section wins I have two crap results and Barney is close behind with three points but has better back up results. There were ten anglers fishing and Robin and Barney used the better pegs on three sections of the river, Ashford, Ilford and above Coxes. I fancied pegs 52 or 55 at Ilford but drew peg 15 at Coxes. It's a fairly consistent peg but the bush you used to fish too has been removed although there have been some decent weights since it's removal.
There was a chill in the air and we'd had a couple of frosts but the river looked in good nick although low and clear as usual. As I was setting up John Coxon walked up the other bank on his way to peg 14, the tank traps swim where I won the first Hollowlegs match. I set up the obligatory 1.5 gram Drennan Carbo shotted with an olivette and a couple of droppers with a 0.12mm bottom and 18 B611. White hydro completed the set up. The main flow of the swim comes down the middle where it is also at it's deepest before the peg shallows up at the bottom. There are a couple of inviting looking bays on the far side where some of the flow eddies back around.
I decided to start down the middle on the crease of the flow while feeding across to one of the bays as a second line for later, where hopefully the chub would be lined up. On the whistle I baited up with a single caster and first chuck the float buried and the result was a minnow! On went double caster to hopefully keep those little blighters at bay. The next put in resulted in a positive bite and this fish was slightly better although I'll never know what it was because as I was shipping back, the hook pulled out! I then had a chublet of around 12oz and then dropped off a small fish although I was still getting the odd minnow, even on double caster.
I was feeding caster, maggot and hemp both down the middle and across, after the first hour I had six chublets from 4oz to 12oz for about 2lb. If I could carry on like this for the remaining four hours I would have double figures and hopefully be there or thereabouts. I was still getting the odd chublet (and minnows) down the middle and was pretty happy with the way things were progressing although I did pull out of a chublet. After two hours things started to slow up and it was time to go across, two quick chublets put in an appearance before this too went quiet. Not the response I had hoped!
Another try down the middle only resulted in minnows and half a lobbie failed to get any takers. I then went tight across at 13 metres to the far bank to the left of the bay with half a lobbie on (that sounds a bit rude doesn't it?) and started getting bites straight away, had two small chublets and pulled out of a fish. I was just about to feed when I looked up and the float had gone, this fish was better at around a pound and a quarter. Just then Justin turned up and asked if I was bagging again, I said not really and that I had around 3lb. He said he'd only had a minnow on peg 24 and that Neil Dring above him only had one chub. He then walked up to see how John was getting on.
Just after Justin went I had another chublet before that dried up as well and attempts down the middle and in the bay proved fruitless. With an hour and a half to go I switched back to double caster and decided to fish across but up the feed in a bid to make something happen. As I've said before this last period is very often very productive and I've lost count of the times a seemingly dead swim has come back to life and I've had fish that have elevated me from a mediocre weight to a frame place. I was hoping today would be the same.
A bite resulted in a decent pound and a half chub and the next put in I hooked an even better fish that went off on a powerful run. With the pole tip under the water I was slowly getting the upper hand, I was just about to unship some sections when the poxy hook pulled out!, bugger. I was really hoping that fish wouldn't cost me. I had another chub around the pound mark and not long after another one which was approaching 2lb. I now had around 8lb and with half an hour to go if I could snare a couple more I could do a good weight. Fifteen minutes passed and my mind kept going back to that lost fish, then I missed a couple of bites before the float sailed away and I was into another good fish. I netted it safely and I reckoned it was at least two and half pounds and there was still quarter of an hour to go. One more, please, one more.
It wasn't to be though and I never had another bite. I packed up feeling quite happy and pleased with my match with the only blip being that lost fish. I took most of my kit back to the car before walking up to weigh John in. He said he'd had a few and was admitting to a couple of pound, when he pulled his net out I knew it was more and he weighed 5lb 6oz of chublets, dace and a couple of roach. When we got to my peg I said I reckoned on having around 8lb although I'm notorious for underestimating. My 18 chub (plus minnows) pulled the needle round to 11lb 10oz which I was well chuffed with. I weighed the biggest chub which went 2lb 12oz.
Back at the cars Justin had only had one minnow and Neil hadn't added to his single chub of 1lb 10oz. I still thought Roger on peg 55 or Barney on the big bend at Ashford (peg 85) might be threats but they both came back with an ounce each! Digger weighed 5lb 12oz from peg 50 and that was good enough for 2nd! So I'd won again, my 12th match win this year, and picked up another £65 to take my total to £1176. I have never hit such a rich (pun intended) vein of form before and surely next year will be an anticlimax compared to this one. I am also still leading the league and am now three points clear, thanks to Roger and Barney's blowouts.
There is only one match remaining in 2006 and thats the pairs open on New Year's Eve, my partner Justin and I have a good record in this match with two wins and a second in the last three years, well thats hexed that then!
I'd just like to take this opportunity to wish anybody who's read my blog a Happy Xmas and the next time I write it will be 2007, so a Happy New Year as well.